Kenyan Smallholders Lack Capacity to Respond to Climate Change: Survey

22 Sep 2014 by OOSKAnews Correspondent

The majority of Kenya’s small-scale farmers are unable to deal with climate shocks, a situation that is worsening food insecurity, poverty and land degradation in the country, according to a survey released by relief agencies on September 19th.

The Climate Change & Food Security: Predictions from the Future survey covered 26 counties in Kenya where climate change has disrupted farming and ecological balance.

Relief and research organizations affiliated with the Catholic Church undertook the survey to gauge the capacity of Kenyan smallholders to cope with climate change.

“It is clear that climate change has adversely impacted farmers across many counties, as productivity declines due to erratic weather patterns,” said Dr. Elias Mokua, director of the Jesuit Hakimani Center in Nairobi.

The survey aimed to examine the links among climate change, food security, land use practices and urbanization.

It found that small-scale farmers in Kenya have yet to feel the impact of climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. Even high-potential regions have experienced crop failure, livestock deaths and habitat loss due to inability by smallholders to cope with extreme weather events.

“Food security is also threatened by changes in land use, ecological factors and market forces,” Mokua said. “Failure to act quickly will have severe impacts on the economy and the country’s stability.”

Researchers from the Jesuit Hakimani Center visited smallholders to obtain their accounts of how changing weather patterns had affected them over the last decade.

“The findings of this survey basically capture farmers’ voices, and the next step is to involve them at all stages to ensure mitigation programs are successful,” Mokua told OOSKAnews.

Kiraitu Murungi, chairman of Kenya’s Senate committee on agriculture and livestock, stressed the need for stakeholders to reframe the fight against climate change to ensure that mitigation efforts have an effect across all economic sectors.

“We need to focus on practical measures like halting deforestation and harnessing local knowledge to promote climate-resilient farming at the smallholder level,” Murungi said.